Having been given the welcome news the night before that the swim was finally on after an anxious three-day wait for the tail end of Storm Irma to abate, they set off from Dover Marina just after 6am for a short boat trip to the start at nearby Samphire Hoe.
First up was Andrea who jumped into the water at 06.25, swam to shore and raised her arms. The pilot boat responded with a blast of its hooter, signalling the beginning of the swim and inviting Andrea to re-enter the water. The swim was monitored every step of the way by an official for the governing body – The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation.
A total of fourteen hours and forty-three minutes later and in complete darkness, Don swam his way onto French soil as the final member of the relay. Staggering onto the beach at Wissant, he raised his arms and triggered another blast of the ship’s horn, bringing proceedings to a close – followed by much jumping up and down reminiscent of a student receiving better than expected results!
“There were one or two hairy moments” Don explains, “like the massive cargo ship [pictured] whose Captain had some difficulty grasping the concept of swimmers in the middle of the English Channel, and responded to our pilot’s request to alter his course a little too slowly for our liking”.
Another jolt came for Don himself near the end of the challenge, when he was head-butted in the sternum by an aggressive (or perhaps myopic) seal who surfaced underneath him!
Don decided to take on the challenge to fundraise for BABA as a way of thanking the Neonatal Care Unit at RCH for taking excellent care of his daughter, Joss, and granddaughter, Elowen, during a complicated pregnancy that resulted in Elowen’s arrival 10 weeks prematurely. He says of their Channel swim challenge: “it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time … and I’m delighted that so many of you have added to my enjoyment by supporting the Trust’s BABA appeal”.
Don has raised almost £800 so far (including Gift Aid) but his page is still open for donations! Find out more by visiting: